Authentic Youth Engagement Stories
The Reflections: Stories of Foster Care Audio Stories series was developed by the Children’s Bureau's Capacity Building Center for States. In this series, youth and child welfare professionals speak candidly about the importance of authentic youth engagement including at the individual, peer, and systems levels.
Andrea and Medina's Story
These two stories reveal the elements of a trusting relationship between a youth and her attorney. The attorney gained the youth’s trust through modeling consistency and reliability. Their relationship developed into a lasting, supportive friendship that helped the youth learn to advocate for herself and her child.
Diana and Tishana's Story
These two stories describe the relationship between a youth and her court-appointed special advocate (CASA) worker. Their relationship was initially forged over a shared meal, when the CASA worker’s advocacy for concrete supports to meet the youth’s needs helped grow their trust.
Stefani and Kim's Story
These two stories demonstrate how listening is foundational to developing a nourishing relationship with youth. A young woman describes the constant support she and her family received from a social worker as she evolved from a youth into a teen mom and advocate. Her social worker talks about how their relationship has contributed to her own personal growth.
Corey and Kristopher’s Story
These two stories address the importance of transparency, honesty, and respect in building mutual trust. A case manager’s commitment to being genuine and transparent helped a youth overcome years of distrust stemming from earlier traumatic experiences while in foster care.
Debra, Kaylah, and Brittany’s Story
These three stories highlight the advocacy work of State and regional youth leadership councils. Two paid State and regional youth specialists and the Texas director for transitional living services describe how including youth voice by providing them a “seat at the table” at the State capital enhances the child welfare system. All three discuss the rewards and personal impact of their work.
Arika and Micaela’s Story
These two stories reveal how advocating for youth makes a difference in system change and in advocates’ own lives. The director of policy and advocacy at NMCAN and a youth advocate talk about their shared experience in testifying as expert witnesses for State legislative committees and how it created a strong bond between them.